The COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown, restricted movement orders, social distancing rules and the switch to working from home adopted by many organisations in Malaysia as well as the rest of the world has caused many to rethink the way we do business. While there are some who yearn for the “old normal” or talk about the “new normal” – whatever those terms really mean – the reality is that the way we conduct our business has changed dramatically. Literally almost overnight. In other words, the pandemic has forced not a mere evolution, but a revolution, in the way the business world operates.
Paradoxical as it may sound, change is the new constant. We are in a state of constant flux, and we have to constantly move and adapt to new ways. To quote the Global Chairman of Dentons, Joe Andrews, “‘new dynamic’ is probably a better term for our future than ‘new normal’. Rather than a steady state, we are likely going to face constant, accelerating change”. This new dynamic has similarly affected lawyers in how we will continue to conduct our business, to serve our clients.
Technology, and access to it, has now become one of the most important tools that lawyers need to serve their clients. For example, although videoconferencing has been around for some time, physical meetings were, prior to the pandemic, still very much the norm. Now the buzzwords are “Zoom meeting” or “Teams meeting” – businesses now use videoconferencing extensively to connect and meet with their customers, clients or even internally amongst co-workers. However, being in an industry that is governed by strict solicitor-client privilege laws and that involves dealing with clients’ confidential business information and strategies, the security of such information and the means of sharing and communicating it is of paramount importance. As everyone is aware, anything done online makes you and your organisation potentially vulnerable to spying, hacking or other similar intrusions into your systems.
When the Movement Control Order was announced in Malaysia on the 16th of March, 2020, we quite smoothly transitioned from working in the office to working from home. I will not try to kid anyone by saying that it was plain sailing; nonetheless, when the lockdown took effect on the 18th of March, we were ready to continue to serve our clients seamlessly from home, whether the clients are from Malaysia or overseas. With the technology we had in place, we could access our email, document database and accounts servers, and could conduct our business almost as if we had never left the office. Facilities like virtual data rooms, videoconferencing and secure cloud-based document sharing with our clients continued to be available uninterrupted to a large degree. And all this in a highly secure environment.
Our combination with Dentons 2 years ago, to a large extent, helped bring this into being. The rigorous technology due diligence undertaken by the Dentons Global IT team and the revamp implemented for our IT systems as one of the conditions to the combination ensured that we had best in class solutions for all key functions, including, most importantly, security. The latter in particular is helpful and beneficial not only for us but also for our clients; because of the sensitive data we handle, law firms are frequently the targets of hacking, phishing and other unsavoury activities on the internet. For a global firm like Dentons, these risks are magnified manifold and, accordingly, are treated very seriously.
Competent advice and service is a prerequisite but, in addition to that, the right technology coupled with a robust security system is what, I believe, will help lawyers provide the best service to their clients and differentiate the top firms from the rest of the field.
As a further step towards taking advantage of technology in the increasingly online world to connect with our valued clients, I am excited to announce that Zain & Co. has officially launched its Linkedin page. Follow us for local and global updates as a member of Dentons, the world’s largest law firm.